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CNBC show 'Make Me a Millionaire Inventor' to spotlight Petaluma man’s ‘Glo-Blades’

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After strapping five LED lights onto a skate and gliding onto the ice, Ralph Haney knew he had a great idea for a new product.

“All the kids around me just went, “Whoa, dude, where’d you get that?’” Haney recalled of the reaction at Santa Rosa’s Redwood Empire Ice Arena.

Six years later, Petaluma resident Haney is taking his next step in the quest to mass produce his idea, Glo-Blades. Wednesday he will appear at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on the CNBC show “Make Me a Millionaire Inventor.”

The program bills its mission as finding “the best inventions never made” and giving inventors the chance to make a pitch to possible investors.

While Haney can’t give away all that happened on the show, he said, “I was successful to a degree” and he hopes to work with one of the two investors that appeared on the program.

Haney, 56, an IT manager by day, said he has always been a tinkerer.

One day more than six years back he was skating with his wife and daughter at the Santa Rosa ice rink when the lights briefly were turned down. Haney pulled a blue LED pen light from his pocket and was struck by how the ice beneath him diffused the light. Even a rink employee was impressed by the effect, he said.

Haney quickly went to a store, bought five more lights and connected them to the inside boot of a skate. Seeing how it looked on ice convinced him in late 2009 to get a patent for his invention, a device with LED lights that attaches to the blade of a skate.

He later formed Glo-Blades International, a corporation that raised $50,000 from family, friends. The company developed prototypes that since have appeared in ice shows and have caught the attention of U.S. Figure Skating officials.

“They see Glo-Blades as being good for skating,” he said of skating officials and professionals.

Last year, he said, he took his creation to the Invention & New Product Exposition (INPEX) near Pittsburgh, Penn. and won the 2014 gold medal for entertainment products.

Creators of the CNBC show learned about the award and invited Haney to appear on their program.

In preparation, the show paid for the development of a new prototype and rented out both the local ice rink and one in Southern California for filming.

“This whole endeavor didn’t cost me a dime,” Haney said.

Glo-blades also works with in-line skates and looks striking at dusk, he said.

The product’s design is nearly complete and Haney is seeking the means to manufacture it in large quantities.

“The only thing holding us back is capital,” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 521-5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @rdigit.

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